The lay apostolate

In another undated and probably uncirculated document from around the time of the opening of the First Session of Vatican II, Cardijn again summarised his conception of the lay apostolate.

Emitti spiritum tuum

Et renovabis facium terrae.

THE LAY APOSTOLATE.

  1. I believe that it is necessary to give greater emphasis to, to insist more on the absolute necessity of the apostolate of the laity and for a profound and complete conception of the necessary, essential, proper, irreplaceable apostolate of the laity.
  2. Yes, individual, personal apostolate, but leading to an organised apostolate encompassing life, the whole of lay life – personal, proper, autonomous – with each one having a mission, a vocation proper to them that is necessary for the realisation of the plan of love of God in the order of creation and redemption.
  3. But also and necessarily organised on the scale of the modern world, including all aspects of modern life – education, family, work, profession, culture, production – locally, regionally, nationally, internationally.
  4. In movements, organisations, institutions which allow and ensure formation, education, action, responsibility of the interested parties, of the agents who must discover, seek, realise the problems and their solutions.
  5. By collaboration, solidarity, association, both between individuals and between institutions; both between private initiative and with public authorities.

It is the very conception of the Church, of the Mission of the Church, that needs to be renewed, the whole Church, priesthood and laity, hierarchy and mystical body.

The lay apostolate cannot appear as a faculty, a possibility, an accessory, but as indispensable : without the lay apostolate the Church is powerless to fulfill its mission of transforming the world into a Christian world : renovare faciem terrae, omnia instaurare in Christo.

Hence the necessary collaboration of the clergy, their support, their vigilance in the necessary formation, action and apostolic organisation of the laity everywhere and always.

This conviction must shine through in all relations of the clergy with the laity, children, young people, adults, in all aspects of religious education in the family, in the parish and in movements.

Personally, I believe that this conception of the lay apostolate cannot be sufficiently and effectively expressed in general Catholic Action, but that it absolutely requires specialised Catholic Action. Not expressing it clearly enough seems to me not only a setback in pastoral care, but an impossibility of responding to the problem of the present world and in particular of the world of work which will become more and more decisive for the future of the whole world.

With regards to this, could we not employ an even more dynamic, more enthusiastic, more colloquial tone in the schema on the apostolate of the laity, insisting above all on the decisive importance of the vital problems posed by the modern lay world, always more technical, more intrusive, ever more influential in all essential aspects of social life; family, work, leisure, culture in an increasingly united, inseparable and diverse world.

This insistence could perhaps be made via interventions from the authorised spokespersons of the lay apostolate movements in the various continents for the various milieux in the General Assemblies of the Council.

This insistence on the need for the Apostolate of the Laity could also appear in the spirit, the composition, the suggestions, the implementations of the World Secretariat of the Apostolate of the Laity at the Vatican.

Spirit : apostolic and missionary, an irresistible atomic center; open, representative, realistic, not a priori; not theoretical, but speaking loudly as a spokesperson for the world movements; dialoguing with all, seeking with all, listening to all; in which the varioius sections are not ????, but collaborate closely for the goal as a doctrinal section:

theology of the laity

“ work

“ family

“ culture

“ leisure

sections: backgrounds

continents

suggestions: methodology

missionary

technicians

sessions, internships, exchanges

achievements – international, continental,

regional, national, local

WSAL would be both a mirror, an echo, Cenacle, a driving force: through its information, its documentation, its assignments, its calls for collaboration.

The guarantee for such apostolic program would be based on the composition of the permanent team of the secretariat which should include genuine representatives of the various milieux, continents, aspects.

This permanent team would form working teams with the leaders of the various movements and various aspects:

international movements of mediums

“ of doctrine

“ of publicity

“ of art

Suggestions and realisations.

Suggestions and realisations would be valued on their content and would never be imposed by the Hierarchy.

The Preparation Committee for the secretariat would propose to the Holy Father the candidatures presented by the movements. The duration of all the functions as of all the mandates will be temporary.

SOURCE

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, L’apostolat des laïcs (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Joseph Cardijn, The lay apostolate (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)